Sometimes when I’m pulling out another load of tangled, wet clothes, I want to turn my head to the side and slam it onto the top of the washing machine. But I don’t. I carry the basket out to the clothes line and start trying to figure out which things can share pegs because the peg tin is empty and the line full.
Then I yell, ‘Yes? I’m at the clothes line!’ But I never hear what follows.
I come back inside and empty the dishwasher. And fill it again with the dishes off the bench. And one bowl off the coffee table and one coffee mug off the arm of the couch.
Then I start folding the damp clothes I’ve brought in from the line and try to see how many of them will fit on the clothes horses and how many Explorer socks can just lay over the edge of the clothes basket on the floor near the clothes horse.
And sometimes, I wonder if that’s what my life has amounted to.
A lady rang the other night while I was cooking tea. Actually, it wasn’t a lady; it was a girl. A student from Melbourne University wanting to know if I’d received a letter from the Vice Chancellor.
It was bed time. The girls were in the bath and I’d been yelling at them from the kitchen to hop out (cos’ yelling from room to room is acceptable for mums). Not that there was a real rush because the vegetables weren’t quite cooked. And there’s nothing like a quick glance at the clock in the evening when you’re trying to cook and serve tea and get the girls into bed with teeth brushed and stories read, all before The Voice starts, to get panicky.
I decided I’d lay the phone on my shoulder and hold it there with my head to listen to the girl on the other end of the phone. Because if I was 19 at University and having to ring past students, I’d have been about as brave and handy as a sheep dog pup in a pen of old ewes.
I clattered my pots and pans to let her know how kind it was of me to hear her out. And just to further set the scene for her, I told her if I had received anything from the Vice Chancellor, that I’d have thrown it out (it wasn’t a Visa statement or a farm fertiliser bill).
She said something about following up on what alumni are up to and I’d studied Agricultural Science, correct?
She wanted to chat about the structure of the agriculture department and how it had changed. I didn’t.
We talked a little about my time studying Physiotherapy then Accounting in Melbourne before transferring to an agricultural college. About going overseas to study the sheep dairy industry and returning to Australia to finish my degree. And about working for an agricultural research organisation through which I met my husband and now we have two children (who should be in bed) and run a farm.
‘And then what?’ she asked, waiting for the rest of the story. I tested the potato with a fork and then banged the lid back on. That’s the end of my story as far as you’ll be interested, I thought.
‘I didn’t go back to my job.’
‘You don’t work?!’ And she actually gasped.
‘No,’ I said. I moved the potato peel off the chopping board so I could put the saucepan there.
‘Wow! You’re the only woman I know that doesn’t… hasn’t…’
‘I started a business designing and creating [sounds more intellectual than ‘making’, no?] children’s clothing and I sell them on my website,’ I said, partly in defence, partly to help her out with a sentence she wasn’t sure how to finish, and partly because she can’t have heard the part about Ag. Science -> farm.
And then, of course, she got to the real reason for her call. She reeled off a few amazing agricultural-related discoveries like new fish species in WA and something else that I couldn’t hear because I was mashing potato, and how they were possible through the support of alumni and would I be willing to set up a direct debit process of $30 a month.
And that phone call was the icing on the cake. One would usually say ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back.’ But I’m a glass half-full sort of person.
That phone call was just what I needed to really plummet into a self-pitying misery of dissatisfaction and resentment. And only by crashing that low and staying there for a day or two could I get how ridiculous it was.
Dissatisfied with a life full of everything I chose? Resenting having clothes and a washing machine and a dishwasher?
And I started to laugh at myself and lift out of my misery.
I’ve got this practice when I’m complaining about something, or one of my friends is, I ask the very simple question of ‘How’s that going for you?’ And the number of %&$ symbols that my friend or I have to use to spell out the answer, usually makes it pretty clear that doing what you’re doing and thinking about it the way you’re thinking about it isn’t going that well and that maybe you might want to change one or the other.
Today, just as confirmation, this quote popped up in my Instagram feed. And, as quotes do, it summarises in 12 words, what I’ve just spent 24 paragraphs trying to say:
Source: thegoodquote on Instagram
Humour me, though, please, does anybody else have one of those days when you feel like you studied calculus just so you could work out how to divide four remaining pegs into six socks?