I’ve been getting myself in a bit of a pickle recently. It happens from time to time, generally when I have too much to coordinate. The fret lasts until the mountains have been climbed and the streams forged and I emerge at the other side with a satisfactory sense of a job well done.
My husband reckons that I’m a worrier but that’s not it. A worrier is someone who sees disaster around every corner, who fears death and destruction at the slightest delay in arrival, someone who worries if they don’t have anything to worry about.
But I tend to trust that things are fine unless I hear otherwise. No. I’m not a worrier. I’m a fretter.
I start to fret when there are events on the horizon that will require careful planning. I am good at planning. I like to think things through so that every eventuality is considered and closed off. And most of the time that is fine and dandy. After all, my life is one long logistical challenge and if I spent the whole time fretting about all the arrangements I’d be bonkers by now.
What makes me fret is multiple plans. Day to day I can do but if you start to layer things on top I begin to twitch. For example, planning a holiday is fine. It’s complicated, sorting washing and packing and arranging for the cats to be fed and the milk stopped and the fridge emptied and the house clean and the currency bought and the agenda fixed and the tickets printed off and the gadgets charged but it’s fine. I enjoy the challenge.
But layer a holiday with some thing else, say a show that involves us all for ten nights but not necessarily the same nights. Who is where, when they need collecting, who will sit with the ones left at home, what will they be fed and when?
Then what about a birthday chucked into the mix for good measure? Not just any birthday but one that only comes round every four years. Cue high expectations and even higher fret levels. Heavily themed party, dressing up, cake. You know the kind of thing.
Ok, now I’m properly fretting. My head feels like it’s going to explode as I try to work out how I’m supposed to remember everything and manage it all without dropping a clanger. There are subsidiary things floating around too. An assignment for Uni with the necessary reading round, an election, two book groups, a gym competition, a ballet exam and a school show on top of the 32 activities a week, homework, teenage girls, music practice, cooking, tidying, laundry, cleaning, shopping.
And now I start to sound like a martyr but I don’t mean to because my life is only more complicated than other people’s by virtue of having more children to factor in. The point is that it makes me fret. I convince myself that I cannot possibly get it all done and that I will overlook something crucial and there will be a disaster and it will all be my fault and my children will hate me for ever and on and on into a huge, dark, spiralling black hole of fret.
Of course it does all get done. I stamp around the place and have a little weep and there are a few broken nights but step by step we get up to the top of the mountain and admire the view. And then we turn round and spot the next rise with a whole new set of things to fret about and then it starts all over again!
I’d love to be a calmer kind of person, to float through life singing ce sera sera and not getting into such a tizzy. But I’m not. I can’t help it. It’s just the way I am. A natural born fretter.
Next week I’m going skiing with friends to unwind and recharge. Of course, until then I shall be fretting about who will have the children and what they’ll eat and who will pay the sax teacher and if they’ll remember to feed the cats and…………….