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DIARY OF A DEMENTED HOME WORKER: Vexed by a hex that had me up

June 20th, 2021 6:25 PM

By Emma Connolly

Lessons learned this week? More sunscreen and less WhatsApping. Yes ‘peas’!

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It’s Week 67 and between feeling a little bit burnt out and an awful lot sun burnt, I was getting a right roasting from all angles

• THERE was a hex on me this week. A huge one. And that was on top of that awful overcast haze we had hanging over us for days. So the result was one big, hot mess where pretty much everything I touched went to absolute pot. My mess-ups ranged from the too small to mention to the too big to mention. Some I managed to fix (with a lot of blood, sweat and tears) so there’s no point drawing attention to them now, but some are repair jobs still in progress. No one died or anything, but it was just one small thing after the other, so much so, that by the end of the week I barely trusted myself to boil an egg. Let’s just say I was really glad I wasn’t a crane operator or a brain surgeon as very bad things would have happened. I was offloading to a friend and she said it sounded like burn-out. My initial reaction was that she was being a bit dramatic, and indulging me too much (having said that, if I thought I’d get away with it, I’m quite happy with that label, and for sure I’m wrecked if that counts for anything). Someone else said there was a new moon which mightn’t have helped things, and of course hormones were mentioned (should I call Joe Duffy?). Who knows. What I do know is that the five-year-old was feeding off my mood and raising it a few levels, so most days in our house last week ended with teary hugs, and promises that we’d try harder. Myself included.

• Now, at some point in the middle of my week from hell it randomly occurred to me that WhatsApp is possibly the most useful, but also the most irritating invention known to man (but mainly woman, because let’s face it, it’s usually women who manage this means of communication in a family). Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s no denying how handy it is to keep track of admin, kids’ activities, nights out (what’s that?) and the like. But at times it can feel like a full-time job keeping up with it, even if your standard reply is just a token ‘thumbs up.’

• Of course timing is everything when it comes to WhatsApp. A funny meme, or cute kid picture could land when you’re super chill which, of course, makes you super receptive to replying with something appreciative and meaningful. Or you could be in the thick of something and on a whole different wavelength in which case you’re more like ‘what the absolute…what is she like in fairness...does she have anything else to be…’ and so on with your spiral of total, irrational rage.   

• Tone (as is the case with all electronic communication) is also very much open to interpretation, and because most groups have lots of members, with lots of different personalities, the probability of misinterpreting a message is high. A 98.9% average in most cases. Personally, I have a tendency to over think things in the late evening when I’d be better far off putting the phone away and trying to quieten the mind. So a typical scenario in my house around 10pm involves me saying to my husband: ‘Can you pause the TV there for a second, do you think that’s just a regular thumbs up, or is she having a dig about what happened at Christmas? That’s the Christmas before last I’m talking about now.’ Except of course he isn’t listening to a word I’m saying and is basically trying to figure out how on earth I managed to conceal this level of madness when we were ‘courting.’ He’ll come to as I wrap up with ‘yeah I’ll just forget about it. Ok. I’ll draw a line under it. Unpause the TV.’ Then 10 minutes  later I’ll pipe up: ‘Pause it there again. She’s read my last message, and she’s online alright but she hasn’t replied. What do you think that means?’ as my husband slowly dies inside. And then of course there’s the whole business of trying to leave a WhatsApp group. I’d say it’s easier to retire from the KGB. Not to mind the new trend of never ending voice notes. When did that become such a thing?

• Anyway to top the week off, I managed to get nicely burned when the sunshine finally arrived in West Cork. The five-year-old had enough protection on her to survive a visit to a radioactive nuclear site. But somehow between the jigs and the reels and the general exhaustion of life (and the WhatsApps), my husband and I got a bit scalded. Ok a lot scalded. While my childhood photo albums are full of pictures of me looking burned alive (I can still vividly remember my siblings and I getting sunstroke once after a great day in Barleycove), it’s now as taboo as smoking. The absolute shame of it! I’ve  got myself a very definite tan line right across my thighs from shorts, which isn’t helping my swimsuit look one bit let me tell you. Life’s a struggle.

• It’s Father’s Day this weekend. It’s not really as big a deal as Mother’s Day as all dads really want is a quiet life (and less WhatsApp talk). That’s just as well as all they usually get is what kids/mums want for themselves! I remember giving my dad an REM cassette one year when I was going through a big shiny, happy, people phase (his own eclectic taste in music was a mix of Tina Turner, Luke Kelly and Dolores Keane), and most other years we defaulted to giving him sunglasses. I think jealousy is a really horrible trait. It’s mean, narrow minded, and loads of other stuff you wouldn’t want to be but I’ll admit to being really jealous of people who still have their dads in their lives. So there. Grief is a funny thing. You might think you have it all squared away nicely but most of the time it’s just simmering away in the background ready to pounce.

• Jeez, I’m  a barrel of laughs this week aren’t I? Anyway, one good thing which has really boosted my confidence (and god I need something) are my peas. They are flying it! I’m predicting a great harvest in a few weeks time and lots of lovely, therapeutic pea shelling. I may even have to set up a stall at a market, things are looking so promising. Excuse my excitement but I literally threw some seeds in a pot, completely ignored them, and hey presto! My mum tells a funny story of how when they were kids they’d call to a particular shop asking for peas, knowing full well the answer they’d get. The man behind the counter would tell them he was very sorry but he hadn’t had ‘a pea for a week.’ Ah c’mon that’s funny. Even a fake laugh will do me …

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