Life is a little bit stressful at the moment for Alpine Mummy. But don’t worry, being forever on the verge of a nervous breakdown makes for good reading (I hope!).
I’ve told you all about my ridiculous commute – over 1 hour 45 minutes each way, each day. (Sorry to go on about it but it’s taking over my life! And anyway, my friend, who had a similar if not worse commute, says the distance involved entitles me to whinge about it for the rest of my days. So I intend to.)
But there’s an end in sight – we’re moving house. On 6th January. Of course – would you expect anything else from Alpine Mummy? Moving house is apparently one of the most stressful things you can do, along with giving up your career to start a new job in a new town in a new country in a new language – and so we decide to do them both at once. At Christmas time. Yup.
Last time we moved house, to emigrate to the middle of nowhere, Alpine Girl was 6-weeks old. Stressful, it goes without saying, not least because the removal men to whom we paid a significant amount of money to carefully and tenderly wrap and move our precious belongings obviously got confused by our instructions and instead stupidly and brutally threw said belongings into the back of a truck and seemingly juggled them all the way to France. Nearly everything was broken. And the insurance paid exactly £100 more than we had paid the removal men in the first place. How kind.
But weirdly, that stress quite quickly faded into a sepia-tinted soft-focused memory of starting a new life in paradise. I think the baby-hormones might have had something to do with that…
But this time our baby (Alpine Baby) is aged 9 months, and so those hallucinogenic baby-brain hormones are long gone, only to be replaced by tiredness, general grumpiness and gin. I’m hoping these three will have the same effect though, so that I won’t remember the stress of moving three kids and a fat cat up and down mountains in the middle of an Alpine winter at Christmas time. Here’s hoping…
Christmas is all about giving, of course, not about stress. This year for me, though, the two have gone hand in hand. I leave home at 7.00am and come back at 8.00pm every weekday (did I mention my ridiculous commute…?), I sleep a LOT on Saturdays to recover, and the shops are closed (CLOSED! Bloody French) on Sundays. So I don’t have much opportunity for shopping. I have finally managed to stop getting lost every time I leave the office, but have only really managed to find designer handbags and expensive antiques for sale in the area – neither of which appear to be on Alpine Boy’s Christmas list. Internet shopping is of course the answer, but this means I literally don’t see any sunlight from Monday to Friday, as I spend lunchtime after lunchtime glued to my computer buying gifts.
This is of course entirely my own fault, as it would never occur to me to buy Chirstmas presents in November. Or indeed before 15th December. Living on the edge, that’s Alpine Mummy…
And Christmas is about parties, and celebrating, and having fun! Yes indeed, only the Alpine Mummy way is of course to add a healthy dose of stress into the mix. For example: I have been in my new job about five weeks, yet somehow it fell to me to organise the office Christmas party. This is not a cheapo “few bottles of plonk and a packet of Monster Munch in the office with a boob-photocopying contest for afters” kind of party. This is a full-on “posh hotel, black tie, three-course meal with foie gras and champagne and petit fours and cocktails and place settings and speeches and clients and a DJ, and not a stationary cupboard in sight” kind of a party. It was like organising a wedding, except I didn’t know anyone, I only had three weeks to do it in, and I didn’t even get to wear a beautiful white dress and have people be nice to me all day. Anyone who came to my wedding will know that organising big parties isn’t one of my skills – I forgot to order any flowers until a week beforehand, therefore giving the florist heart-failure when I told her exactly when I would need those beautiful bouquets; I spent the entire afternoon finalising table plans, less than 24 hours before they were needed; and Alpine Papa and I had a midnight flit to London – a 250-mile round trip – the night before the big day to pick up a forgotten shirt, meaning I missed my boozy drinks with my friends and had a grand total of three hours’ sleep before my wedding day. This is all normal, in my life.
But the office Christmas party went off without a hitch. No, that’s not true, it went off with plenty of hitches – the wrong room was set up by the hotel, the risotto starter was nearly ruined because the star guest was late, and the microphones didn’t work for the speeches – but none of them spoiled the night. Or at least none of them would be remembered after a few glasses of posh champagne. (So I made sure my boss drank lots. Hic.)
And the party organisation doesn’t end there. Alpine Boy’s birthday is two days before Christmas. Of course. There’s no way Alpine Mummy would give birth on a normal day when she could instead spend the next 18 years going crazy at Christmas time, stressing about presents and parties and presents yet more presents and not being able to move in the house because it’s full of bloody PRESENTS and “have I even bought him a BIRTHDAY present?” and “OH MY GOD where did I put his CHIRSTMAS present?” and “aaaahhhhh can it really be party time already?!!!”
Alpine Boy’s annual party is a usual Alpine Mummy affair: eleven hyperactive kids bouncing off the walls and jumping on the sofas and throwing tennis balls at the TV and sellotaping tinsel to the cat and screaming and shouting and ignoring the games (which have taken me a total of 6.5 hours to prepare – 6.5 hours of my life which I can’t afford because of my RIDICULOUS commute, which I might or might not have mentioned) and stuffing 3 kilos of Haribo and birthday cake into their mouths in 3 seconds flat (birthday cake which has taken me THREE DAYS to make thanks to my RIDICULOUS commu… OK you get the message). And then it has become tradition to invite all the hyperactive parents of the hyperactive kids over for drinks after the party, and the drinks turn to dinner for the bestest friends, and before you know it it’s midnight and you’ve had too much mulled wine and cider and wine and gin and the house looks like a bomb site and the kids are still up and still hyper and you’ve run out of booze and cake and there’s nothing you can do but unstick the tinsel from the cat and pass out on the sofa.
To top it off, the landlord added a bit of extra stress this week by organising a house visit on Sunday afternoon from the prospective new tenants, so we couldn’t even do our usual trick of spending all the next day in our PJs and taking a week to do the washing up. Great.
So yeah, Alpine Family life waddles on in a haze of stress and disorganisation. Just like every year, I have managed to send a grand total of zero Christmas cards (don’t be offended if you didn’t get one, it’s clearly nothing personal…), and just like every year I will still be up at 2.00am on Christmas morn, wrapping presents. Each year I promise it will be different: that this year will be stress-free and organised and I won’t run out of paper at 1.30am and have to finish the wrapping with old newspapers and socks. I wouldn’t place bets on that, if I were you, though.
And, as I sat hiding in the pantry in the dark this afternoon, trying to escape the mess and the screaming kids and secretly munching on Alpine Boy’s chocolate coins, I realised that I am very lucky to be stressed like this. No really, if the most dreadful things I have to be stressed about are having a job and a new home and friends and family to buy presents for and have fun with, then I should be thankful, not a grouch. I have friends going through really sad and stressful times at the moment, and I think about them constantly, thankful that my stresses are nothing in comparison, and hopeful that Alpine Mummy’s tales of chaotic family life and sellotaped cats are enough to make them smile, if just for a minute.
With love to you all at Christmas,
Alpine Mummy xxx