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.