Dolly's blog: Power
August hadn’t gone well. In fact life in general seemed to have taken a distinct turn for the worse. The work/life scales were heavily overloaded on both sides and frankly it was taking its toll.
There’s always a final straw, which actually wasn’t work or family but the residents’ association I’d foolishly agreed to chair when everyone else refused to step up.
Never allow yourself to get into this position!
It’s like EastEnders-style neighbourly conflict (but over bats, fundraising and tree surgery) mixed with alarming legal responsibilities. Who wants that in their life?! But somehow this had ended up on the shoulders of probably the most overcommitted resident of all. More fool me.
It came and went, but increasingly there were times my brain felt physically squeezed; gnawed at by an intermittent sense of bleak powerless panic. A (nice) neighbour’s protestation that the next fundraiser should be better organised made me cry - then I cried more because I was annoyed with myself for crying.
Then I had a Day Off.
Six weeks into the holidays, the domestic mood had descended into apathy and ennui. The house looked like a student hovel, the kitchen smelt and the dishwasher was full, dirty and with extra dirty dishes stacked on top. The sky was autumnal grey and the dog looked depressed. The momentum to spend the day under a duvet was overwhelming.
But I knew I had to make what my wise mother refers to as “the happy choice”, which was to summon my dwindling energy and drag everyone on an 80 minute drive to Camber Sands. Everyone looked at me as if I was mad. The kids vociferously objected. Mr D said little but communicated irritation. I kept going. We got in the car. It rained. We arrived. The car park machine required a phd and the lifeguard sign confirmed the water and r temperature were 18 degrees. I doubted my sanity.
We set up camp in the dunes (for shelter). It wasn’t like the cover of the Red magazine I’d thrown in my bag: Jools Oliver on a beach glowing with sun-kissed health in a big floppy sunhat. “Endless summer” said the front cover, whilst in my world dark clouds loomed.
Then we shared coffee from a thermos flask, Mr D heated tomato soup on a gas burner and we munched homemade cheese rolls. And gradually everything started being good. “This is nice” said our surprised-sounding 13 year old, whilst the boys dug boy-sized holes in the sand. The sun came out. I swear the dog smiled. I read a few pages of my magazine. The kids’ faces turned from grey to alive.
And then it was time to brave the sea, which was still Hawaii-rough. I stood like one of those Antony Gormley statues as wave after wave crashed over me, filling my eyes and mouth with salt, suddenly laughing out loud at the sheer aliveness of it all as I was knocked off my feet then got back up, wave after wave after wave. I did this, I thought. I made this wonderful day happen. Me.
The next day I told the residents’ committee that I’m resigning.
After 19 years of fee earning, Dolly now works in a management role in a London law firm. Working four days a week she has three children aged 13, 11 and 8, a wonderful (though often absent) husband and a charismatic dog who keeps her sane.
Category: A Citymother's Diary