I was wondering why I was so stressed all the time and then I remembered that moving house is famously one of the most stressful things you can do. And I was here, not only moving house but preparing to move country on top of minding two children full-time.
Two children, I should add, who literally, literally, never stop moving.
In the middle of it all, I experienced a painful gum infection which the dentist said could be triggered by stress. “Anything stressful going on right now?” she asked and I laughed a little bit (as much as you can with someone’s whole hand in your mouth).
I found myself regularly thinking: “There just aren’t enough hours in the day!” Then, having a brainwave after exclaiming this for the millionth time, I created an extra hour by going to the 6am gym class instead of my usual 7am one. But that meant getting out of bed at 5.30am and by the afternoon I found that I hadn’t gained an extra hour after all because I couldn’t function without an afternoon nap when I hadn’t needed one before.
When that hadn’t worked, I decided to get a cleaner in to help us out. But having clean floors (while a nice bonus) wasn’t exactly the problem. It was childcare I needed.
I enlisted the help of a local teenager to watch the kids for a few hours while I attempted to pack up our whole house but as soon as she walked in the door, the baby remembered that she is the clingiest baby on earth so now I was trying to pack up the house not only with kids running around underfoot but with a baby climbing up my leg and clinging on like a koala bear. I packed as much as I could that day with one hand, using the other hand to hold the baby on my hip.
The next day, I was better prepared and had the kids packed in the buggy, ready to walk out the door as soon as the babysitter arrived.
“But… it’s raining?” the babysitter, quite fairly pointed out.
“Ah, it’s only a drizzle!” I said, waving them off and closing the front door behind them.
I didn’t want to be critical as he was evidently very proud of the playlist he had put together but I decided that, ‘What the hell is American about that?’ was still a fair question to ask. ‘Dolly is American,’ came the response
Feeling bad about the working conditions I had provided for the teenager, I asked my parents to help me out (because truthfully, I had little to no regard for their working conditions and also, their rates were much better). “God, you really have to watch the 18-month-old at all times to make sure she doesn’t kill herself, don’t you?” my mam said. “I don’t remember that phase,” the mother of four added, completely bemused.
One night, as I lay awake in bed, completely overwhelmed by how much we had to do, I attempted to channel that stress into something productive I could achieve without getting out of bed so I reached for my phone and at 1am, found myself buying hundreds of euro worth of Joe Biden masks for our going away party while silently wondering if I was having a nervous breakdown.
My husband seemed to be taking it all in his stride though he had taken to playing The Saw Doctors and Declan Nerney over breakfast every morning, looking up Mass times in St Patrick’s Cathedral and generally acting like the sad, pining emigrant before we’d even left the country.
The kids were acting more Irish than the Irish themselves as well, with the three-year-old’s favourite game being to stand up in the bath kicking wildly while I played Riverdance 1994 on my phone. At the part where the crowd goes wild, the baby and I would clap and cheer accordingly.
A few tell-tale signs that the stress was finally getting to my husband, however, eventually revealed themselves. We had arranged to meet a potential buyer for our car and as he pulled up, my husband said to me: “Don’t tell him we don’t have another car. We’ve bought a Mercedes C class. If he sees the movers, don’t tell him we’re moving to America. We’re moving to Clontarf. Vernon Avenue. It’s an executor sale.” This was a lot of (very specific) information to take in at once, especially for someone who is absolutely terrible at lying.
Afterwards, I asked him why it had to be an executor sale. He said he just liked that detail.
When the cracks really started to appear, however, was one week before we left and the night before our American wake. He had taken ownership of the playlist and said he’d put together American and New York songs for the party. The night before, I happened to ask how the playlist was going and he took it out and played the first song. It was I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton.
I didn’t want to be critical as he was evidently very proud of the playlist he had put together but I decided that, “What the hell is American about that?” was still a fair question to ask. “Dolly is American,” came the response.
I let it go and we moved on to the second song: Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel who are both from – yes, you’ve guessed it – America.