“And how are you in yourself?”. I have come to loathe this loaded question. I don’t think anyone asked me this until I became a mum. I don’t dislike it because I am afraid that it will make me break down in floods of tears. I loathe it because whenever it is asked, at the time I am usually just fine! You know; alright, things are all normal just now. My children might be a bit tired, but they’re fine too. We’re all bumbling along as happy as we can be at this moment!
In hindsight I don’t know why I thought I wouldn’t be in the firing line!
Then … It happens. “And how are you in yourself?”. This question is usually posed by a health professional. In this instance it was a Health Visitor – one whom I hadn’t met before – and it was actually Harriet’s 12month progress check so I wasn’t really prepared to be questioned about myself. In hindsight I don’t know why I thought I wouldn’t be in the firing line! … My right arm was wrapped in a tubular wrist-support bandage (to support a healing fracture) and to really glamour it all up, on the same hand was a very gross blister that had appeared out of nowhere after a tiny patch of eczema had flared up! … Oh, and I suppose we all looked a bit clammy after me cycling us there straight from the nursery pickup. Despite all that though, no one was crying (not even me) and we were all there on time. Go us!
But there it was. The seed was planted. Harriet’s progress check was all fine. She’s a bum-shuffler, who’s also quite happy cruising around – great – and she’s following her little weight chart perfectly – fab. And as a delightful added bonus I even managed to persuade Sidney to let the health visitor weigh him too, so we can move everyone up a carseat size. All is going well.
Did the lines around my eyes look more terrible than all the other mums she’s seen today?
However, someone has now asked me, ‘how I am in myself’, which automatically means that for the next 24 hours I am questioning whether or not I am ok. Do I not look ok? Did I seem like I might cry? Did the lines around my eyes look more terrible than all the other mums she’s seen today?
There is something in that particular phrasing that gets under my skin every time. Someone could just as easily ask, “How are things?”, or, “How are you, mum?” and I would understand that they are asking me if I’m ok. But by using the words you in yourself suggests something deeper. Like I might not be myself, or I might be feeling so overcome with my lot in life that I have something that needs looking into, deeply.
Let’s be honest. There are moments when any parent feels a bit overcome with being so on demand all of the time, but mostly its cool. Once you get used to being so important to miniature versions of yourselves, it can be pretty special at times! But that’s just part of the rollercoaster of having children I think.
This summer our family’s general look is, ‘a bit clammy’
Nevertheless, that turn of phrase is something I genuinely wish people wouldn’t use. It makes people feel like there is something wrong with them, when there isn’t. We’re just navigating the overcrowded-supermarket of everyday like everybody else. Sometimes we don’t have disgusting blisters and clammy children, and sometimes we do. This summer our family’s general look is, ‘a bit clammy’ – but at least that means we’re drinking enough, right?
Finally, I guess a caveat here could be that I am one of those ‘hypersensitive’ people you read personality descriptions about, which is why I react so badly to questions that are unnecessarily probing. However, even if I am a bit on the hypersensitive side, if me and my two children managed to get ourselves somewhere on time – and none of us is crying – we are all in ourselves, just fine.