AWOL: Personality, good mood, and ability to focus

Making a scary lion face at temples in Cambodia

I’m not sure what’s happened to my personality this week, but I don’t like it. Sure, the week started with some sort of stomach bug or food poisoning that had me throwing up or curled up in bed moaning most of Monday night, but it’s now Friday. I’m mostly over it. There’s no call to find myself sighing with exasperation every time I have to get up in the middle of the night. Or annoyed when Mum decides to take it into her head to unstack the dishwasher at 7am and wakes me up after I’ve been up too late reading (I know, right in her own home, what was she thinking??). Or seemingly unable to find the motivation to tackle the normal sorts of tasks that need doing – work on consultancy, draft proposal to go to publishers next month, do pregnancy yoga or go for a walk, refer to list marked “To Do Before Baby” and do something, anything.

I have managed to stay away from the chocolate that Mum thinks she’s effectively hidden underneath the lettuce in the bottom drawer of the fridge – but that’s mostly because whenever I think of it I just can’t be bothered to get up and get any.

Even when I have been in a semi-decent mood this week I’ve been vague. Very vague.

On Tuesday night Dad hopped on a plane to go to South Sudan for a month to finish his own consultancy (because Dad has technically been retired for 7 years now and this is the sort of thing retired people do, apparently). So on Wednesday I set out with Mum to do something useful – namely, to help her with the grocery shopping since otherwise she would have to do it by herself.

I think within three minutes of us walking into the store she wished she was doing it by herself.

I’ve been here three weeks now and this was the first time I’d braved the grocery store. At least I didn’t find myself overwhelmed by the tidal wave of confusion and angst that can strike when you abruptly encounter an over-abundance of choice after spending months doing your shopping in a store approximately the size of a bedroom. No, but I was rather happily dazed by it all. I wandered around the fruit section, touching stuff and reading all the descriptive labels above the seven different types of apples with great fascination. When I finally got around to rejoining Mum there were already 20 or so items in the cart. I put in my contributions – an eggplant and rhubarb (neither of which were on the list) – with triumph.

“What are those for?” my mother asked.

“Oh,” I said. “The eggplant is just so pretty and purple, I can use it in something. And we can’t get rhubarb in Laos. I can make a crumble.”

Mum decided that a more directive approach in relation to my “helping” might be in order.

“Go to the next aisle and pick out the yogurt you want,” she instructed.

I did – two types. At least that was on the list. But I also picked out fresh pasta, parmesan cheese, malted milk power (for biscuits I’d suddenly decided I wanted to make), and oats.

The next time Mum and I crossed paths she tried another tack.

“You can push the trolley,” she said.

And I did, until I left it in the middle of the baking aisle to look for cocoa.

“My handbag and wallet are sitting on the seat of that trolley,” Mum reminded me when she turned the corner and saw this state of affairs.

“It’s right there,” I said, waving down the aisle. “I can see it if something happens.”

Mum did not look convinced. She retook possession of the trolley and, probably desperate by now, made her biggest strategic mistake of the afternoon. She sent me to the end aisle to look for frozen berries for the rhubarb crumble I had envisioned. And what stood between me and the end aisle? That’s right… the ice cream freezers.

I was happily engrossed in checking out the ingredients in hazelnut gelato when I heard my name being called commandingly from the end of the aisle. When I looked up Mum was pointing sternly behind me, at the berries.

I never did get my hazelnut gelato, but I also don’t think I got anything else that was actually on the list except yogurt. And I was so exhausted by the whole expedition that I also never got around to making my rhubarb crumble, or doing much of anything that night, actually, except watching TV and feeling sorry for myself that Mike was not here to rub my aching back and fetch me chocolate.

Yes, much of the week has been spent like this – seesawing between vague and unreasonably pissy. Really. I’m sure Mum is just relishing all this extra mother and daughter time we’re having now that Dad’s back in Sudan. Really.

But today is a new day. Today is a new day. Today is a new day. And I might even make a crumble.


14 responses to “AWOL: Personality, good mood, and ability to focus

  1. The scary part about this is I can picture your Mum in the supermarket exactly as you depict 🙂

    Although a McKay by birth would certainly not steer anyone away from ice cream lol

    • Amen brother. (I know, wrong relationship – but “Amen, cousin” doesn’t have the same ring to it.)

      Welcome to late pregnancy. My brain has stepped out, it may be some time before we see it again. No verbs in sentences. Vague. Nap.

    • Yup, she’s fun to write about. Less fun to grocery shop with (but then again, she could say the same of me, with a great deal more justification).

  2. If it is of any help or at least of consolation, the number of home cooked meals in our house has been dropping considerably already – and we’re wtill steering down the barrel of another 20 weeks. Have purchased a number of things this week (read: while shopping last night) to try and increase the quota – I just can’t for the life of me remember what they are.

    And for the record – as a McKay not by birth I still wouldn’t be silly enough to try and direct any McKay away from the icecream!!

    • Yes, well, if were up to me to be doing the home cooking most nights I can assure you we wouldn’t be sitting down to lovely spreads like we did tonight. I do have to figure out something to do with that enormous eggplant, though!

  3. If it helps this week I have double booked myself, put credit onto a mobile number that I don’t even have, and also felt especially dark and angry at a lot of stuff which hasn’t warranted it. I have also failed to complete ongoing sewing projects and have considered watching a DVD but been too lazy to actually put one on. I have definitely not resisted the chocolate also. Thank goodness I am 38 weeks – but this really just means the pregnancy vagueness will soon be replaced by a sleep deprived mothering version. Elisa

    • Sorry, hey. Particularly about the dark and angry part. I hate that feeling – particularly when it seems largely unwarranted. Really hate it. Hope the next couple of weeks goes well!!!

  4. You know, I spent a large portion of this post worried that you were going to use the eggplant in the crumble. I was heartened by the mention of berries and that you looked at hazelnut gelato. And, I hate to be the bearer of bad news . . . but I’m not sure this type of mood stops after pregnancy. But then at least you have a cute baby to look at. And Mike will be there. So, really, it WILL be a lot better.

  5. I can remember the grand thrill of the supermarket after two years in China. For the first few months home, it would take more HOURS to get through the store. Who knew how fascinating all those products were and HOW could you just choose one product out of the 20+ possible? And if you had to choose, you had to make the right choice, which entailed reading in detail those tiny words on the food label…

  6. Don’t forget that there is the “up” side to baby brain! Your brain is reconfiguring to “intuitive” mode so that you can learn your baby’s cues and recognize what your baby wants and hear those different baby cries that other mothers talk about but you’ve never really believed in! 😉 Enlarging your right brain capacity doesn’t come free though – your left brain has to learn to take a back seat for a while, which is hard for us verbal/written types. Good luck with it!

    • Thanks… and isn’t it lovely to know there’s a good reason for what’s going on, and that it justifies me being as vague as I want. OK, maybe not that last part.

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