June 16, 2013 by talkaboutyork
It all started on Wednesday. The post was delivered. I put it on top of the leaning pile of letters that sit on the entrance hall table. All of it was addressed to my husband. He tends to sort out the bills in our house, so he gets all the uninteresting mail whereas I get handwritten thank you cards and party invitations, which get ripped open immediately. It’s not fair but there you go.
None of his mail had been opened for some time. He has been away on business. A lot. In fact by the end of June, we will have been in the same house for a grand total of seven days this month. And it was pretty much the same in May.
Anyway, as I walked away from the pile of post, some of it slid off the plastic wrapper of an industry magazine that was also addressed to him. It landed on the floor. I turned around, sighing about the shambolic state of our house. As I tried to stack the mail again, I just thought, ‘Sod it.’
I picked all of the mail up and took it to the study. The study which you cannot move in because it is so full of everything that doesn’t belong anywhere else and no-one ever tackles. I sat down and started opening the letters. I know they weren’t addressed to me, but I was pretty sure that my husband would be grateful to me for doing a job that he doesn’t seem to have time to get to.
As I trawled through the terribly dull mail, I saw a letter from the council saying that the on street parking was due for renewal. There was also a letter saying that the road tax for one of our cars was due. And there was a letter from the company who owns our garage saying that we owed them some money for some work done and that they were frankly tired of asking for it and that they were going to get legal if it wasn’t paid within a week.
So I put away my novel writing and decided that although we have clearly demarcated blue and pink jobs in our house, I was going to have to man up and wear the blue overalls for a while.
First up I paid the outstanding bill. Then I thought: you know what, we never use two cars. We live in the middle of York. We need to sell one. That will save me paying the road tax and parking too. So I called the car dealership and found out what finance was still owing. Then I called a car buying company and got a quote for my car. Then I arranged for the car to be valeted.
In order for me to sell the car, I needed all the paperwork. The paperwork lives in a box in the garage. The garage would make a hoarder weep. It is packed to the rafters with furniture that doesn’t fit in our house and boxes that have yet to be unpacked and bikes and scooters and gardening stuff and tools. And the missing box of paperwork. I performed an acrobatics move trying to find where it was hidden. I realised that there was only one thing for it.
I had to sort out the garage.
So I did. I moved everything out. I threw stuff away. I unpacked other stuff. I made piles of stuff to be carbooted or ebayed. I organised and moved heavy things and got very, very dirty and very, very tired. I even had two men walk past and ask what I was doing. They had a little browse while they were there, but didn’t buy anything but they gave me plenty of tips on where the best carboot sales are. At last I managed to get the box of paperwork. Of course I also had to go to the tip to get rid of all the rubbish.
Then I thought, you know what, the people who I had to pay the money to for the garage are people who do up flats and let them out. Perhaps they need furniture. So I called them and asked if they’d like to take a look. They did come. But all our pieces were too big. So then, with the brainwave of a lovely friend, we asked whether a lady across the road who sells refurbed furniture would like to buy some of my stuff. She came around on Saturday and is taking most of it.
So, garage sorted. Furniture sold. Rubbish to tip. Car cleaned. Paperwork found. The next day I sold the car (for a good sum I feel). Then I got hold of the DVLA, the insurers and the people we owed the finance too. Oh, and the bank as I have to pay the builder some money.
In between all of this, I went to watch / take the boys to two cricket matches and one cricket training session, and wrote up a new list of house rules after bursting into floods of tears on a friend’s shoulder at the school gate about how badly behaved the children were being. We came up with a ‘zero-tolerance-or-your-mother-goes-nuclear’ strategy and I laid it out for them on Friday evening. And so far it is working.
By Saturday I had one job left to do. Tackle the study. Tackle it I did. I filed and sorted all our paperwork for the last year, chucked out rubbish and put stuff in their relevant places. The office now looks like somewhere you might actually get some work done.
Today I celebrated by taking my children swimming including sliding down flumes and getting an enema, followed by lunch, followed by a boy movie (you know, with explosions and aliens etc – yay!)
Since returning home, I have ironed four loads of washing and got all the kit ready for another week of school. I’ve fed and bathed the children and read them bedtime stories.
Yet, at the place we had lunch today, dads got to eat for free because it’s father’s day. My children looked around the restaurant and said slightly forlornly: ‘We are the only people here who don’t have a dad with them.’ I wanted to ask the waiter:’What about mothers who are doing both jobs? Do we get free lunch too?’
And readers, that is why I have not written a word of my novel since last Tuesday. Or blogged much. And why I shall now be having a rather large glass of wine.
Happy father’s day to all the single mothers out there. I am only a single mother occasionally. You do it all the time. Congratulations on doing a, quite frankly, awesome job!