Over the past couple of days I have read two posts, one from John at Going Gently and one from Gertie Pye at Quiltingforengland and they have both inspired me to write a little anecdote from 1988.
When he was 18 the kids dad had a motorbike accident and had a hind quarter amputation. He was my toy boy I was 21. At the time we had been living at his mums to save a deposit for a house. In the autumn of that year we were given a council flat. I worked in London at the time and used to leave at 7 in the morning and get home about 7.30 ish in the evening. His mum used to come round in the day to check he was alright, make him some lunch, wash up, tidy round, do a bit of washing or hoovering. She was checking on her lovely son she had just nearly lost and helping out his young, stressed, stretched girlfriend who was trying to be all things to all people. I used to pitch up in the evening all knackered and bad tempered to find the old busybody (old ha she was younger than I am now) had been in my house interferring in my life, telling the world I couldn't cope and was crap at everything. Now the truth is I couldn't cope and the more anyone tried to help me the more defensive and angry I got. I would whisk myself into a frenzy and shout and bang and go to bed and get up the next morning and do it all again.
Fast forward a year, kids dad needed operations that needed post op care so I gave up work to do this. We couldn't afford a TV or a Licence or the electricity to run it so we didn't have one but we did have a radio and I listend all day and half the night. Like his mum I became an Archers addict. Ruth was a young farmer and Gill her mother in law used to go to her house to help. They had a big row over it. MIL came round when I was listening and said "oh, I'll get a bottle of wine and catch you up". We sat there long into the night while she caught me up on all the characters and then we had a conversation about the Ruth/Gill situation. UH-huh you know where I'm going. Suffice to say, in the words of Johnny Cash "I walked away with a different point of view".
That evening is one of the salient points in my life, when I learnt that no matter how stressed a person is, it is always useful to look at something from someone else's point of view. I am stubborn and often it takes me while to concede that I am not the most always right person on the planet. But hopefully, I don't hurt as many people as I used to.
And over the years, those extra bags of shopping, bit of hoovering, washing up etc have been helpful and not just to me but also to another mother whose children were growing and leaving and who needed to still be needed. And when my eldest goes to university in September that will be me.