Recently by Jo Ind
A friends writes to reassure me after hearing me lament that I haven't done any "creative work" since having a child.
But parenting is creative work, she says. It's miraculous work. Just look at your son, what more creative a job could you be doing than raising him?
I find myself wanting to quibble.
Yes, creative parenting is a term very much in vogue and while I certainly have no doubt about the value and importance of bringing up children, I find myself asking if the task really is a creative one?
To be brutally honest, most of the time, it doesn't feel like it. It feels chaotic, hit-and-miss and about day-to-day survival.
Being comfortable with chaos, I grant you, is all part of the creative process but when you're writing a book or making a piece of art, there comes a point where you start to shape the madness. You limit the possibilities. You focus. You move into a phase where you know what you're doing. There comes the happy day when you look back and think: "Ah - so THAT'S what I was making."
I can't imagine I will ever know what I'm doing as far as parenting is concerned. Will it ever take shape or will it continue to be about dealing with each incident as it arises on a minute by minute basis?
Is it really worth it? That is the question I always ask myself as I fret around booking, washing, uploading, planning, packing, delegating and farewelling before I go on holiday. At the time it is hard to believe the stress generated through the sheer effort of getting away could possibly be off-set by the pleasure and relaxation of any break that is to come.
Every time, I find myself perplexed. Why is it such hard work getting us all out of the house? Why does there always seem to be more that I can possibly manage to do?
I found something of an answer to that question about five hours before we were due to leave for our three week break in Barbados when Arch did a massive pooh - one of those kinds that spills out of the nappy and onto the vest.
I have a secret to share with you dear readers. Quietly and surreptitiously over the past few years I have been transformed from someone who could not understand why balls had been invented into an edge-of-my-seat, whooping and hollering cricket fan.
This is not something I talk about often as I suspect it is part of a midlife crisis, but I can not let as schools secretary Ed Balls tries to persuade us of the "health benefits" of the game (ugh!) without offering some passion on cricket's behalf...
Deaths have a way of piling up like cars in a motorway accident. It seems trite to put it down to the time of year but any undertaker will tell you this is when they are most busy.
As I write this I am missing a funeral I would very much like to have attended - but I have been to one funeral a fortnight for the past six weeks and there is a limit to how much I can rearrange my work to accommodate them.
In truth, I am also suffering from grief overload. The world seems grey. The unlit Woolworths store on the High Street makes me feel mournful. Wherever I look, I see loss. I am probably resisting the sadness of yet another farewell.
None of the deaths have been devastating - a dear great aunt, who lived a very good life and died at the age of 93, the mother of my best friend whom I have known since my school days....
Though very sad, they have not been like the death of a spouse, or a child, or my own mother. That kind of grief is unignorable and so you don't ignore it and, if you've any sense, you take as much care of yourself as possible as you go through it.
The multiple pile-up of minor griefs affects me in a different way. In some respects it is harder to deal with than the overwhelming loss that is etched in your face, robs you of sleep and leaves you clueless as to whether it is day or night.
I am left with the vague sense of something missing that I can not quite pin down. The people who have died are not people I saw every day, or even often, so at one level their absence makes no difference to my regular routine. It's just walking past that Woolworths store that gets to me...
While some people fear losing their jobs and their homes, I'm worried I'm losing my mind.
There's a history of Alzheimer's in my family, so I don't want to sound too flippant but if I didn't laugh I don't know what I'd do.
At the relatively tender age of 46 (I had to think about that for a minute - I can't remember how old I am anymore) I have to use my diary to write down what I have just done as well as what I'm going to do. Otherwise I forget.
When I get dressed I stand in my underwear and think: "Have I just put on my deodorant or not?"
Last year I bought a Valentine's card for my husband. When I put it away in the special box where we keep such sweetniks, I realised it was exactly the same as the card I had bought him the year before.
In my youth it was only when I was totally rat-arsed that other people knew more about where I'd been than I did. Now you could tell me anything and I'd believe you - I can't remember what I did ten minutes ago, never mind yesterday.
Some friends who have suffered from a similar condition after having children tell me that a few years on you re-find you marbles. They turn up like the odd socks that have slipped down the back of the radiator. Others say it is part of an irreversible decline.
Either way I have decided to be fascinated by this fuzz that was once my brain and enjoy the different reality that it filters for me.
Recently I was feeling upset with a friend who had said something hurtful. I remembered the hurt very well, I just couldn't remember what she'd said - so that's one half of the forgiving and forgetting dealt with.
My husband struggles to buy me presents so I often buy something for him to wrap up and give me on Christmas Day. I used to think this was a farce, but this year I genuinely forgot what I'd bought so I got a surprise - and do you know, it was exactly what I wanted?
Many times I stand in a room and think: "I know I came here for something. I'll just plump up these cushions while I remember what it was" and sure enough it all comes back to me and I think how clever I am that my body managed to get me to where I needed to be even though my brain had gone AWOL.
It's as though the factual, linear part of my brain has gone revealing a soft, blurry place of feelings and impressions and intentions. I quite like it, in much the same way that I like my dreams.
I had a good last line a minute ago. I really did. Where's it gone??? Oh never mind.....