Busy Bees

There is a saying that I have heard, if you want something doing, then give it to a busy person. Before we had Joshua and I worked full time, I used to think that I was busy, then we had a baby, and after 6 months maternity leave, I went back to work for 3 days a week, then I felt really busy. When Joshua was 4, he went to school, and I began to work four days a week, but they were shorter days as I would collect him from our local primary school, so I felt busy then. Joshua moved to a special school and he was transported by taxi, so I increased my working hours, but always kept my Fridays off. In 2011 Joshua moved to his current special school, so he was still transported by taxi, and I started to get involved more in school by becoming a School Governor, volunteering in class on my Fridays off and three years ago, I started to run a coffee morning for parents on the last Friday of every month and I felt busy then, as I was virtually working full time.

I have not worked or volunteered in class on Fridays for a while now, but I am a member of a committee that holds its meetings on  some of my days off at school and the Coffee mornings are still thriving, but most Fridays I am able to choose how to spend them, whether it is with haircuts or meeting friends for lunch, that is still my day of rest, while Joshua is at school. Then almost 4 weeks ago, my Mum was admitted into hospital over two hours away from home, and I had to work out how I could make regular hospital visits. Since then, I have been over visiting Mum a couple of times a week, sometimes with overnight stays, so that I can make visits on consecutive days. So now I know what busy really is, when I have been juggling home, Joshua, hospital , school and work, and I realise that I was not actually very busy before this time as my life has expanded to find time for this new, but hopefully short-term, commitment

So, yesterday , while Joshua was at respite, we took time out to do nothing! We visited a spa for three hours in the afternoon, with my sister and niece, and it was blissful. As soon as we arrived, we sat in the outside jacuzzi, surrounded by stunning scenery, watching the neighbouring sheep and horses in the fields and the rhythmic sound of wind turbines whirring on the hills behind us. It was a perfect antidote to how life has become recently and I did not want to get out. I tried a sauna, steam room and foot spa and then went to the relaxation room where I promptly fell alseep on a giant beanbag for a siesta. When I woke – no idea how long I was sleeping for as there were no clocks in the spa – I returned to my favourite location in the hot tub. There were no mobile phones allowed and so I was not expecting a phone call from respite or a text update from Mum, it was just total relaxation and it was very much needed and appreciated.

I keep being told by a range of people, that if I am to take care of Mum and Joshua, that I need to primarily, take care of myself. Certainly yesterday, I put that into practice and I finally realised what these well-intentioned people were talking about. While I will not visit spas every week, I have committed to make some time for myself in my hectic schedule, at least until things settle down.


Full On

Lately I have been meeting Joshua after school on Thursdays and yesterday afternoon was pretty full on and yet he took it all in his stride : I had a meeting at school at 2 pm, with his teacher and the manager of his new adult respite provision, so that she could ask questions about him and learn how he acts in school. She will also visit him at his current short breaks provision later today , so she will then be fully briefed on how he behaves in all three settings. We had our meeting in an office within the 6th form so I was pleasantly surprised not to hear him crashing around and kicking doors, while we spoke. It turned out that he was protesting on the floor in a cookery lesson, so that is why all was quiet! But he was pleased to see me at the end of the school day, he gave out a few hugs and kisses to selected staff and pupils, than began waving goodbye as he rushed me out of the door then slowly walked downstairs, with all of 6th form behind him, having to go at his slow pace – I enjoyed the banter that his peers gave him.

I drove him to our home town, but to his annoyance, not home but straight to the hairdressers where he had a 4 pm appointment for a much-needed trim. The stylist was still busy when we arrived, so he busied himself by sweeping the floor and watching himself on the salon telephone in the many mirrors that surrounded him, so he was pretty happy. He was less happy to be dressed in a gown, which he rejected in favour of getting hairy clothes. I held his hands while he was first of all clippered around the back and then she used scissors on the top of his hair so that it is still floppy but neater than the pineapple-look that he had been sporting. He was delighted with the end result, admiring himself in the mirror and happily posing for a photograph.

Then we rushed home and had a quick pasta tea. He began to get himself comfortable in den on the settee but I had to persuade him out again, down for a 5.30 Doctor’s appointment this time. He was not impressed and put up a fight, but I insisted that we needed to get his itchy stomach looked at. It was lucky that we were the last appointment of the day, as he was grumpy in the waiting room, throwing the magazines on the floor, trying every door that he saw and throwing leaflets off the desk, behind reception. Finally we were called through by a smiling Doctor and he was content to lift his t shirt to show her his spots, then while we talked, he stood up over her, using her telephone. We were in and out quickly but the waiting room  was deserted when we left, via the pharmacy, to collect his prescription. That was his final stop off and he had had enough and lay on the floor in the chemist while we waited, waving at other customers.

When we finally got back home, after 6, we went straight to the bath as the small pieces of itchy hair down his clothes were not helping preventing him from scratching, so he enjoyed an early bath and  then into his PJs. He was happy to watch Lion King in his bed, satisfied that he was not going to be dragged anywhere else that night. Sometimes he has choices about what he does and does not wish to do, but last night he was dragged from pillar to post in a day of catching up and although he tried to protest, he fell in line pretty well, once he realised that these appointments were non-negotiable.

My Day Off

After Joshua’s epilepsy scare on Thursday afternoon, I was non-commital about how my day off work might go,  until he woke up on Friday morning. He gave me a big grin as he came downstairs, as if to say ‘We are not beaten Mum, not yet!’. He is so resilient that it made me feel feisty yesterday too,  as though we had fought witha Giant and won. I was his school taxi, as his usual driver called at 7am to say that he had car trouble, but I was happy to deliver and collect him, given the scare he had given everyone in the taxi the day before. There was genuine relief amongst staff to see my beaming boy, dressed in his best Christmas jumper, back at school as if nothing had happened.

My day off got hijacked a bit : I had hoped to have a leisurely swim followed by clearing out the chicken shed as we are now hen-less. But Instead I drove Joshua to school then I took his spare boots to orthotics, based at a neighbouring special school, to be repaired as he is so tough on them. I then drove to the office where I dealt with a rush job that needed to be sorted before the weekend. I was behind my desk for an unexpected two hours before I could come home again, so that was the morning gone.

My husband and I grabbed some lunch, then I had a call from the vet to tell me that I could collect our cat who has been very ill and has been there all week. I changed into my scruffs and had just 25 minutes clearing the hen house, but then I had to change again and back in the car for the 30 minute drive back to school, to be greeted by a very happy Joshua. He gave me a bear hug and together we pushed his wheelchair round to the car. When I got home, I gave him his medication, removed his boots for him and put the Show on the television in Den, warning  his Dad that he was in charge while I collected our recovering cat from the vet. I brought Miracle Cat home and made some tea for Joshua,which he devoured instantly.

At 6.30 we headed out back into town for Christmas Lights Switch On, where the whole town turns out to set Christmas off with late night shopping and mingling, while enjoying the festive light display. It all looked very pretty and we supported a few local causes by taking part in their tombolas. In the old days, pre-Joshua, this was a boozy night as the shops would provide free wine and mince pies and we would end up in the pub playing Find the Cherry in the mince pie to win a free drink, so the double vodkas would be flowing. But these days we had a cup of tea in the methodist church hall and then we had chilli jacket potatoes for our evening meal, while greedy Joshua tucked into a plate of chips for his supper.

We were back home by 9pm and I fed the cat in his spare bedroom quarantine, while the bath ran and then Joshua had a bath and hairwash to warm up. He was tucked up in bed before 10pm and finally I had the chance to sit down and enjoy what was left of my day off work.